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The Guthries

The Guthries – 2002 (Haysale)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

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CDs by The Guthries

The Guthries aren't a family band composed of Woody's grandkids, although family plays a big part of this Nova Scotia band. Siblings Gabriel and Ruth Minnikin front this Canadiana (as opposed to Americana) group with Dale Murray, whose brother Brian handles the drum duties.

Three songwriters give the band an appealing range of styles, from quiet country odes to Beatles-esque pop. Murray brings a catchy melodicism to his Jayhawks-like "The Ballad Of Buck Steel," while "The Melodies You Bring" recalls the elegant songcraft of fellow Canadian Ron Sexsmith. The Minnikins' songs show little family resemblance. Ruth Minnikin's numbers, such as the haunting "I Will Forget," tend to be quite spare affairs. Her fragile "Careful Love" brings to mind the Velvet Underground's Maureen Tucker on a backwoods sojourn. She, however, breaks out of her sad lament mode with the twangy pop "Tied." Brother Gabriel's contributions (like "Pistol Whipped" and "Missing Hatt") are rough & tumble country shuffles, delivered in an older-beyond-his-years growl, which inject some roadhouse fun into the disc.

Through judicious use of strings, horns and keyboards, The Guthries have created a rich-sounding sophomore effort filled with warm pastoral pleasures.